Have you ever felt like this? What are menstrual cramps exactly? Today’s Fact Friday has the scoop.
Every month blood and nutrients are produced in the uterus. If there is no pregnancy, the blood and lining will leave the uterus. To help it along its way, the body produces more of a hormone called prostaglandins. This causes the muscles in the uterus to contract and help release the blood.
50% of teens suffer from menstrual cramps and 15% of teens say the pain can interfere with everyday activities. Some teens also experience monthly diarrhea, nausea and vomiting.
What can you do if you have painful menstrual cramps?
- Use low level heat, like a heating pad, on the lower abdomen.
- Over the counter medications such as ibuprofen or anaprox dramatically reduce the amount of prostaglandins and decrease cramping and bleeding. The key is to take them the day before menstruation starts and before the cramp causing hormones kick in.
- Birth control pills can decrease the contraction causing hormone produced. With fewer contractions, there is less pain. Birth control pills can also decrease the amount of blood flow with a period. Even if you don’t think you’re interested in birth control pills, if you have severe cramps that keep you home from school or from doing stuff with your friends or that seem to be worsening over time, visit your doctor or health center for advice. That way you can find out what’s going on and the best way to handle it.